SHOPPING GUIDE TO SRI LANKA- SOUVENIERS, GEMS, MEDICINES, TEA AND MORE.

SHOPPING GUIDE TO SRI LANKA- SOUVENIERS, GEMS, MEDICINES, TEA AND MORE.

This blog is a shopping guide to Sri Lanka. From exotic Ceylon tea to attractive wooden masks and precious gems and spices, there is a lot you can buy in Sri Lanka. Carry an extra bag. Or better still, buy a local cool bag from one of the chic stores. 

Tea Estate. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Tea Estate. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is so much like South India and yet so different. To a foreign visitor who has not been to India, many of the products available on the shelves will offer a novelty. That said, many products available in Sri Lanka are still unique to the country. Though big brands and international chains are pretty common in Sri Lanka, I realized that much of the Sri Lankan products are locally grown and made.

Masks and handicrafts in Colombo. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Me a handicrafts shop in Colombo. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka. Pic by: Dhanushka Rajapaksha

Local brands are popular and cheaper than its international counterparts. Also, though it was easy to find international faces (including many Indian film stars) on hoardings and billboards, I was happy to see many local celebs and everyday people endorsing products on the street side advertisements, which were often a quirky video display as well.

Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

I liked the fact that local models ruled the billboard. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

I am not much of a shopper but Sri Lanka tempted me to shop. I hate to hoard things for myself but I did end up buying gifts for my family and friends. Below are some tips on what to buy in Sri Lanka:

Porcelein elephant contains ceylon tea. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

This porcelain elephant contains Ceylon tea. Great for souvenirs. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

WHAT TO SHOP FOR WHEN IN SRI LANKA?

CEYLON TEA: SHOPPING GUIDE FOR SRI LANKA

We visited a tea garden as well as a tea factory. We saw the tea making process and couldn’t resist buying some for home. The tea in Sri Lanka comes in many varieties. They are also creatively packaged. I received a gift of a beautiful porcelain elephant containing choicest of Sri Lankan tea. The most popular tea brand in Sri Lanka is Dilmah.

Wooden mask. Colombo. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Wooden masks in a shop in Colombo. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

WOODEN MASKS: SHOPPING GUIDE FOR SRI LANKA

The wooden masks painted in bright colors are unmissable. I saw many masks workshop on the coastal road as I was on my way to Galle. Ambalangoda is the main hub where the masks are made. The wooden masks are traditionally used to ward off evil spirits and also used in ritual kolam dances. Tourists do buy these masks to display on the walls of their homes. The frightening mask, it is said, saves you from evil forces. I did pick mask shaped fridge magnets and keyrings at 100 Sri Lankan Rupees each.

Books. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Buy these mini guides outside Sigiriya. Or better still, read my blogs :P. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

FOOD: SHOPPING GUIDE FOR SRI LANKA

I am a big time foodie and this time too I shopped for food. While it was not possible for me to take home perishable street food, the packaged food is convenient to buy. The spiced peanuts they sell in packets are quite addictive. It was hard to resist once I opened a pack. Tempered with spices and curry leaves, it had a taste which I had never experienced before. You can also buy hoppers flour, local red rice, local curry powders and spices, the work! Just keep your eyes opened and you will find something which is local and interesting. My tip is to go to both local markets and the super stores.

Herbal oil. King Coconut oil. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Buy coconut oils, aphrodisiacs, spices, medicines, ointments etc at herbal farm. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

HERBAL MEDICINES AND OILS: SHOPPING GUIDE FOR SRI LANKA

A visit to the spice garden in Sri Lanka reminded me of my visit to a similar spice garden in South Goa called Sahkari farms. We took an interesting tour which educated us about everyday plants which we take for granted or know little about. Who would have thought that the humble turmeric or red pineapple or aloevera has so many health benefits? The store I visited had locally made ointments, oils, balms, creams, cosmetics and even curry powders. From aphrodisiacs to pain relieving oils to local lifestyle products, you will find it all here. The best part is all of it is organic and natural.

Shops outside Sigiriya. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Souvenir shops outside Sigiriya. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

GEMS: SHOPPING GUIDE FOR SRI LANKA

I do not have much of an expertise in gems. That said, it is impossible to miss out on gems when traversing the streets of Sri Lanka. A source told me that some of the gems easily available in Sri Lanka are Aquamarines, spinels, corundums, zircons, amethysts, star stones, tourmalines, topaz, garnets,  cats’ eyes. Sapphire and Ruby is what most people shop for. Sri Lanka has many ancient rocks and thus the abundance. However, beware of touts and fakes. The best way is to stick to Government approved shops.

Terracotta toys. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

If you are into kitsch, you will love these gaudily painted terracotta toys. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

TERRACOTA POTS AND PANS: SHOPPING GUIDE FOR SRI LANKA

You will find many street side vendors selling terracotta pots and pans. From an Indian style karahi (wok) to ladles made with coconut shells, you will find innovative products. If you are into kitsch, do buy the quirky animals painted in loud colors.

Postcards at Sigiriya. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide (2)

This is how Sigiriya looked like originally. You can buy these postcards outside the monument. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

OTHER SOUVENIERS TO BUY IN SRI LANKA:

No one is allowed to click pictures of the centuries old paintings on one of the walls of Sigiriya. To make up, you can buy postcards of the same paintings while you exit. It is also easy to pick Sri Lanka themed magnets and key chains in most of the cities. The Barefoot café in Colombo also stocks some great souvenirs to pick. Many shops in the very ‘Dutch’ Galle sell fashionable clothes and quirky artefacts. The beautiful Bodhi tree is also common, especially near the religious places.

Bodhi Tree, Kandy. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Bodhi Tree outside temple in Kandy. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

Buddha statues are also available in many forms. Pettah Bazar in Colombo is where you can find affordable products. As you leave Kandy, watch out for Dumbara mats and baskets made with hand woven fabric. Shopping malls such as Crescat, Majestic City and Liberty Plaza are quite popular among locals. You can also buy handicrafts, books, garments, etc. Most of the shopping malls are fully Wi-Fi enabled.

Postcards at Sigiriya. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

But these postcards outside Sigiriya. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

SHOPPING CASHLESS IN SRI LANKA:

When you are traveling in a new country, shopping cashless is a blessing, as you do not have to worry for dwindling cash or finding the exact change. Most big shops in Sri Lanka accept credit cards. In fact, my co-travelers bought products worth INR 12,000 at the spice garden with a simple swipe of credit card. It sure makes life much easier. For the uninitiated, you can apply for credit cards here. It is especially more convenient to do transactions with credit cards when you deal with big money. For example, bills for gems run in lakhs so it makes sense to pay cashless. The best part is that using credit cards come handy not only when you travel internationally but also when transacting within India. You must avail credit card offers for the best deals. The future of shopping is cashless. Post demonetization in India in November 2016, more and more Indians are making a transition towards cashless. So, it makes sense in buying the one suited to your needs and spending habit.

Fridge magnets. Dambulla. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Fridge Magnets galore. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

SHOPPING WITH CASH IN SRI LANKA:

Indian Rupee is just the double of Sri Lankan Rupee. Some shops in big cities do accept Indian notes of high value. However, it is not advised. It is better to carry certain amount of petty cash for products of lower value such as snacks, cab and tuktuk rides, souveniers etc.  I also like to collect currency for my numismatics collection, so I did bring along some notes of value 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. Coins are not much in use in Sri Lanka and appears to be phasing out. However, I did manage to take back a 1 Rupee and 2 Rupee coin.

Handicrafts at Sigiriya. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Wall hangings for sale outside handicrafts shop near Sigiriya. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

ALSO READ:

THE ULTIMATE VEGAN & VEGETARIAN FOOD AND DRINKS GUIDE TO SRI LANKA

VEGAN RECIPE OF POL SAMBOL AND KATTA SAMBOL

LUXURY CRUISE FROM DUBAI TO FORT KOCHI

OFFBEAT AL NOOR MOSQUE IN SHARJAH

OFFBEAT MLEIHA NEAR SHARJAH

 

Wooden masks in Colombo. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Wooden masks in a shop in Colombo. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry to host the writers and bloggers for reviews and media reports, I was also invited on the press trip to cover it. However, my views are not influenced by the sponsorship. It is my responsibility to give truthful information to my readers on my blog and I have adhered to that personal policy while writing this blog.

This particular trip was supported by Sri Lankan Airlines in association with association with Outbound Konnections Reps Pvt. Ltd.

Outbounds Konnections can be reached at salesdelhi@outboundkonnections.in

Terracota pots. Sri Lanka Shopping Guide

Terracotta pots and pans. Shopping guide to Sri Lanka

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15 thoughts on “SHOPPING GUIDE TO SRI LANKA- SOUVENIERS, GEMS, MEDICINES, TEA AND MORE.

  1. The porcelain elephant is such a creative container for tea. Tea would probably be my number one thing to buy in Sri Lanka because my husband and I are both tea drinkers. I love the bodhi trees too!

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. This looks amazing. I’ve never been to Sri Lanka, but have been dying to go. All the pretty colors of these souvenirs are gorgeous. I’m a huge tea drinker as well, so I will get a ton when I finally get there. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been reading your posts on Sri Lanka and marveling at how similar the place looked, felt, and even tasted to my homeland of Kerala. The souvenirs at least look quite different, well except for the Coconut oil of course. Keep these posts coming, they will be quite useful when I make my way there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Srilanka has so much similarity with the southern states of India. Tea plantations like Munnar, beaches like Bekal….. even the culinary scene is so similar…The best part was everyone preferred INR over Srilankan rupee when we were there and we did shop a lot. I picked fridge magnet, mask, and tea from Srilanka.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I bought so much tea and spices when I was in Sri Lanka! Although over here in the U.K. most big spice brands also sold in India and Sri Lanka are available, there’s something about fresh spices and curry powders that is simply fantastic. Really wanted to get a wooden mask too, but had no room in my backpack 😦 I guess a return visit is in order!

    Liked by 1 person

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